New nanofabrication technique
Scanning electron microscope image showing carbon nanotubes growing on the heated portion of an atomic force microscope cantilever. Credit: Image courtesy Erik O. Sunden
Researchers have developed a new technique that could provide detailed information about the growth of carbon nanotubes and other nanometer-scale structures as they are being produced. The technique offers a way for researchers to rapidly and systematically map how changes in growth conditions affect the fabrication of nanometer-scale structures.
Instead of a large furnace that is normally used to grow nanotubes as part of the chemical vapor deposition process, the Georgia Institute of Technology researchers grew bundles of nanotubes on a micro-heater built into an atomic force microscope (AFM) tip. The tiny device provided highly-localized heating for only the locations where researchers wanted to grow the nanostructures.
Because the resonance frequency of the cantilever changed as the nanotubes grew, the researchers were able to use it to accurately measure the mass of the structures they produced. The next step in the research will be to combine the growth and measurement processes to permit in situ study of mass change during nanostructure growth.
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